Rebirth

©Lennart Niilson, “18 weeks,” Time Magazine, 1965

Jesus said to Nicodemus, “I can guarantee this truth: unless you are born again, you cannot see through God’s eyes.” (John 3:3)

Before I became a follower of Jesus, I was repelled by those who called themselves “born-again Christians.” To me, their attitude was always one of superiority and condemnation. The approach was of a transactional mentality: I could only earn the love of Jesus if I first changed my detestable behavior.

Years later, when I came to my Savior and joyfully walked into the Father’s loving embrace, I read and studied those red-letter words of Jesus. I contemplated his actions and how he treated outcasts with unconditional love, expansive grace and unequivocal invitation all before they ever awoke to the rebirth that changed their behavior. I realized being “born again” has nothing to do with superiority, condemnation or transactional love. It is a desire, after being awash in God’s sanctification, to honor him with our lives.

As new creations, we are no longer managed by man-made doctrine or theology. If we cannot harmonize the former with the words Jesus spoke, it is not the Gospel. If ignoring the Spirit causes us to justify our actions, if we seem to be led away from His fruit (Gal 5:22-23), we must acknowledge it is not the Gospel we follow, it is not Jesus we follow, nor the Father. It is at that moment of recognition we must choose whether to continue down the path of rejecting Love and Grace, or turn around and seek His full embrace.

By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. (Galatians 5:22-23)

©Lori Fusaro; Old Dog Haven

I was in my 50s when I became a new creation and changed my worldview. Let’s face it; I was an old dog, and if you’ve passed the half century mark, you’re an old dog, too. And like an old dog learning new tricks, I had to take a long, hard, honest look at my thoughts, my words and my actions. More important, I had to choose; would I continue to cling to my old ways or would I consciously decide to allow the Spirit to lead me in a whole new way of life.

My capacity to turn around when I’m wrong, to check myself, and to offer grace has expanded exponentially because the Spirit is strong in me. I recognize the Spirit’s voice and know which way he leads. I’m clear about the Gospel of lavish love, expansive grace, and the continual gift of reconciliation.

We never need to earn this gift – either to receive it or keep it. It is ours for eternity. Our Father’s love is relational, not transactional. Accepting this kind of love is perhaps the most difficult receiving we can learn. It is the very essence of our new life in Christ. It is the core of our rebirth. It is the umbilical cord of our relationship with God; our daily sustenance and breath of love and grace. It becomes the living water from which springs our ability to offer love and grace to others.

Whoever is united with Christ is a new creation. Your old life and ways of being are gone; new life and ways of seeing and being have begun. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

8 comments

  1. Your last paragraph pretty much says it all, Susan…the last line, especially…
    “It becomes the living water from which springs our ability to offer love and grace to others.”

    Yes! And this is definitely the hardest thing for us to understand, and why grace is so misunderstood. We fear losing control over people so we want to put rules on them and fence them in. But with the new creation, our behavior and Christ-like other-centered love and grace is the fruit (or living water flowing out, as you said). A heart that’s been transformed by Love is a heart that fulfills the Law, because that’s where it’s written.

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    1. “We fear losing control over people so we want to put rules on them and fence them in.” Yes, and I think this is projection about ourselves. It’s sad, because the freedom of grace does not result in lack of control – only open eyes and hearts.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, it is sad. And, as you said, grace is a different kind of control. We are compelled by other-centered, self-giving love! That’s the highest form of freedom. I pray we all will let Christ open our eyes so that we can be healed and made whole. Then we will reflect Him properly and walk in this true freedom.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Amen Susan.

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  3. I still struggle with ‘it’s by faith, not by works lest any man should boast’. I recently failed, failed hard. And beat myself up about the little boxes I hadn’t ensured were checked (my works). The Father, gracious as He is, simply said there is nothing you can do to earn grace. It is so difficult to wrap my mind around sometimes.

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    1. It’s the most difficult thing for us to grasp. Our human love and grace is generally conditional, so we don’t have an experiential worldview of unconditional love, grace or acceptance. And of course we fail – but that is why this journey lasts a lifetime. He never condemns us for falling off the narrow path; He simply guides us back on to walk with Him again. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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